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Oh hell, ‘Mo |


Oh hell, ‘Mo

Irish Christianne Dizon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Elmo Magalona is 20 years old. At an age where most guys are struggling with acne, zero game, and dangerously low funds, Mo pretty much has his sh*t together: He’s one of the lead stars in the GMA-7 show More Than Words, he’s happily in a relationship with a pretty girl (actress Janine Gutierrez, in case you didn’t know), and boy wonder is looking mighty fine these days — six-pack abs included in the mix. Google his name and you’ll find articles with titles like “Elmo Magalona Dares to Shock in Cinemalaya Movie #Y,” “Elmo Magalona More Confident About Showing Skin,” and “Elmo Magalona Shakes Off Wholesome Image.” Check out his Instagram page and you’ll probably spot a topless selfie or two. Who is this guy and what has he done to the wholesome rapper we know?

“It’s still me, my body just looks a bit better,” Elmo says, after a decidedly unhealthy pang-taping lunch with his co-stars. In today’s shooting location, a vaguely creepy old house somewhere in Cainta, Rizal, Mo confesses he had a serious insecurity problem before. While he has a butt that can #BreakTheInternet (“Girls tell me it’s my asset. No pun intended.”), he didn’t like his build, specifically, how his upper body was smaller than his lower body. “Weird tingnan,” he says, shaking his head, and recalls how he decided to take action two years ago.

He enlisted the help of celebrity trainer Coach Froilan (known for his punishing but effective workout program) and stuck to a strict diet with virtually zero carbs and sugar, a.k.a. the best things in life. For breakfast, he usually had plain yogurt with a piece of fruit. Lunch was steamed chicken with zero condiments (not even a squeeze of lemon juice) and a kamote or two to give him energy. And for dinner, he usually ate steamed tuna. He challenged himself to consistently eat clean and work out for a year, and you can see the amazing results if you tune in to his TV show. The lesson here being: The first step to manhood is to get…hard.


Getting your body in shape is difficult work, but getting your head on straight is harder. In the beginning, Elmo admits he didn’t like showbiz, but that reluctant 16-year-old bagito is long gone. These days, he’s dead-set on becoming a legit actor. He admits he fell head over heels in love with acting while he was working on Villa Quintana, a soap that ran for eight months — a relatively long time, given today’s audience’s ADD. Part of becoming an actor in the truest sense of the word is willingness to do whatever a story calls for, something Elmo learned how to do in the indie movie #Y. For his love scene with Sophie Albert, he had to be in boxer shorts and nothing else, so dude committed and shed his clothes before he could ask the driector, “Why?”

But he’s not just about working out and work. Elmo is very passionate about his work with the United Nations Population Fund. He recently became one of the organization’s celebrity ambassadors and he chose to promote sex education and early career planning for the youth. “Sex ed is something that needs to be addressed,” he says, impassioned. “The country are already over-populated as it is, so why don’t we teach the youth how to prevent unwanted pregnancies?” He also points out that the recent changes in the curriculum for high school students is a good thing, allowing the youth to get jobs straight out of high school. The lesson here being: The second step to manhood is to get…out of yourself.

But despite his newfound passion for fitness, acting, and social work, don’t forget that Elmo is still a 20-year-old guy, i.e. He’s no saint. We ask him about crazy stuff he’s done, ones we can publish, at least, and he recalls showing up for class tipsy, after downing bottles of beer with his friends during a long break. He also admits he’s bad with money, having spent close to P300,000 to maintain his car, a 2007 Montero that belonged to his dad. “How come we haven’t heard any story of you being involved in a brawl at some club or seen scandalous photos of you floating on the net,” we ask him. There’s a pause, followed by a smile, and Elmo simply says, “Magaling lang siguro ako magtago.” He doesn’t elaborate but wraps up the interview with this: “The kind of man I want to be is someone like my father. Dependable.”

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Tweet the author @IrishDDizon.

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